LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A jury was chosen on Monday in the $40 billion civil lawsuit over the death of Michael Jackson that pits the pop star’s mother against concert promoters AEG Live.
After a month-long search for a jury, six men and six women were seated to hear what could be an emotional three-month trial that will revisit the checkered life and 2009 death of the “King of Pop” on the eve of a planned comeback.
Three alternate jurors still have to be chosen, clearing the way for opening statements to begin possibly later this week or early next week.
Jackson’s 82-year-old mother, Katherine, is suing AEG Live, the promoters of the never-realized series of 2009 London concerts, for the wrongful death of her son. The lawsuit alleges AEG Live was negligent in hiring Dr. Conrad Murray to care for the singer while he rehearsed for a series of 50 shows.
AEG Live contends that it did not hire or supervise Murray and that Jackson had prescription drug and addiction problems for years before entering into any agreement with it for the “This Is It” London concerts.
The concert promoters also argue that they could not have foreseen that Murray, who was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s death, posed a danger to the singer.
Jackson, 50, died in Los Angeles on June 25, 2009, from a lethal dose of the surgical anesthetic propofol that Murray was administering for sleep problems. The day before he had been in final rehearsals for the concerts due to start on July 13.
Potential witnesses in the civil trial include Jackson’s mother, his two oldest children Prince, 16, and Paris, 15, as well as Murray, singers Prince and Diana Ross, and Jackson’s ex-wives, Lisa-Marie Presley and Debbie Rowe.
Katherine Jackson and her son’s three children are seeking some $40 billion in damages from privately held AEG Live for loss of the singer’s earnings and other damages. The final amount will be determined by the jury should it find AEG responsible for negligence.
Murray, who is not being sued, was convicted in 2011 after a long trial that depicted the singer known for his spectacular public shows as an odd, sometimes slurring, drug-dependent shadow of his on-stage image.
Murray is serving a four-year jail sentence. On Monday, his attorney filed an appeal seeking to overturn his conviction, arguing Jackson self-injected a fatal dose of propofol when Murray left the room, according to court documents.
At his 2011 trial, Murray’s original defense attorneys also presented the theory that Jackson could have self-injected. A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the appeal.
A judge ruled last month that AEG Live could raise Jackson’s 2005 trial and acquittal on child molestation charges as part of its defense as it may be relevant to the singer’s history of drug abuse and despondency.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Bill Trott, Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker